Provinces back Canada-wide eLearning initiative

Provincial governments have given their stamp of approval, inthe form of cold hard cash, to an e-learning pilot project forpublic service workers originally approved by the feds.

The 38-month, $10 million portal project, dubbed Campusdirect,that includes products in French and English for courses on projectmanagement and leadership development, was launched in April2003.

Barbara Lukaszewicz spoke about Campusdirect at the e-contentinstitute’s Information Highways conference in Toronto on March28.

Lukaszewicz, director of e-learning programs at the CanadaSchool of Public Service, said that Campusdirect has now beenprovided with permanent funding, $5 million annually, in order toserve the whole federal public service.

By the start of April Campusdirect will be available free ofcharge to all 250,000 federal public servants, she said. In thepast clients had to pay to use the portal.

“This means it will be on the desktop of every single federalpublic servant, which is phenomenal for us,” said Lukaszewicz.”Senior buy-in is often cited as a missing ingredient from similarinitiatives, but that support is no longer a factor for thisproject.”

“One of the things they did with Campusdirect from the beginningwas focus it at the organizational level,” said Gerald Blais,manager, business development for Campusdirect, Canada School ofPublic Service. “We had to be integrated as part of theorganization’s overall learning strategy.”

Unlike classroom learning, we weren’t preoccupied with fillingseats, so we weren’t targeting our marketing strategies around theend-users, he said.

The provincial government funding will be invested heavily inmarketing, according to Lukaszewicz.

The course catalogue will be expanding their from 300 to 800titles, and focus more on custom-designed learning for the federalpublic service, continued investments in IT, and client support,she said.

“And it isn’t just public service employees who are expected toincrease their knowledge and skill-set,” Lukaszewicz said.”Managers will also be held accountable by a new policy introducedby the federal government.”

Lukaszewicz said under the policy, all managers in the federalpublic service will be required to take an assessment test of theirknowledge with respect to financial management, human resourcesmanagement, contracting and information management.

“If they don’t pass the tests, they will have their delegatedauthorities taken away,” she said. “The tests must be passed by theend of December 2006.”

Ottawa-based consultants, Hickling Arthurs Low (HAL)Corporation, won an open bid to provide objective evaluation.

David Low, chairman of HAL, said that from the surveys conductedin their assessment of the project, the users were satisfied withtheir e-learning experience.

“Small departments, and those with small training budgetsparticularly, there were opportunities created for them that didn’texist before Campusdirect arrived on the scene,” said Low.”Campusdirect was able to reach more users, because it covered thewhole country as well as all of the departments.”

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